Judge Upholds Invalidation of Mamuad’s Mayoral Nomination
By David Kvasnicka
Judge Peter Cahill ruled on Wednesday to uphold the invalidation of Neldon Mamuad’s mayoral nomination, which the County Clerk’s office had determined was incomplete.
County Clerk Danny Mateo filed a complaint with the circuit court, and in a press release on June 18 said that Mamuad had failed to supply his financial disclosure, one of the requirements to file to be a candidate for mayor of Maui County.
The determination by Mateo followed from a complaint by a registered voter, Richard Minatoya (deputy prosecuting attorney for the county but not acting in this capacity), against Mamuad’s nomination, citing various issues, one of them his failure to file a financial disclosure.
Mamuad testified in court that at least two County Clerk staff, one of which he was unable to name and was thus not subpoenaed, had told Mamuad that, for election purposes, they could use his latest financial disclosure on file from April 2014, when he was a volunteer commissioner on the county Liquor Commission (he has since resigned).
However, lawyers representing the County Clerk’s office pointed out that an official checklist intended to ensure candidates have submitted all required documents had been initialed by Mamuad in the presence of County Clerk staff. The requirement that an original copy of a financial disclosure be concurrently filed with the nomination papers was spelled out in the instructions next to Mamuad’s initials.
Judge Cahill asked Mamuad if he knew the definitions of “original” and “concurrently,” and asked — if his assertions were true — why had he taken the word of clerks instead of what was specifically required according to the County Charter and the state constitution. Mamuad indicated that he understood the communication with County Clerk staff to be “official” and superseded the requirements.
Cahill at one point in the proceedings asked why Mamuad hadn’t brought the original financial disclosure with him to the County Clerk’s office in the first place on June 3 around 4 p.m., 30 minutes before the filing deadline. Mamuad replied that “time” was a factor.
But even County Clerk staff contradicted Mamuad’s testimony that they had told him his financial disclosure on file as a liquor commissioner would be sufficient. They said they had indicated that they would “check” to see if the other financial disclosure would be sufficient but that even if it was, Mamuad would be required to re-sign and that there was a slight difference in the forms. Cahill found that Mamuad did not take “simple action” to ensure compliance.
The judge agreed with the county’s lawyers that the financial disclosure submitted to the Board of Ethics as a requirement of the Liquor Commission was confidential, and by law, could not be used by anyone for any other purpose.
Cahill found that the County Clerk’s office was legally required to void Mamuad’s nomination, on the grounds that it was not in compliance with either state or local laws.
He went further, saying voters were “deprived of the right” to have access to Mamuad’s information by the failure to submit it.
In the judge’s opinion, Mamuad made a genuine attempt to submit the correct paperwork, and believed Mamuad’s claim that County Clerk staff communications had accidentally misled him via phone and email, but that those actions happened on June 5, two days after the June 3 filing deadline and were thus irrelevant.
Cahill said one of the main problems was Mamuad filing “under the gun” which ultimately led to the improper filing.
Lawyers representing the County Clerk’s office requested that the county’s legal fees be paid by Mamuad, but Cahill rejected this on the basis that he had no authority to do so in this case.